Cloud Computing Tools

Guide to
cloud computing tools
in 2024

Outsourcing compute requirements can yield significant benefits to your business, but knowing where to begin can be a challenge — our guide to cloud computing tools has you covered.

What is cloud computing?

When it comes to cloud computing, it’s not always clear what’s being discussed. Oftentimes, cloud computing refers to the broad idea of on-demand IT resources, infrastructure, and software as a whole. However, there’s also a specific subset of cloud services called ‘compute’ — that’s what we’ll be covering on this page. 

You can think of cloud computing as essentially renting a virtual computer with all the necessary resources, such as processing power, memory, and inclusive storage for application data. It’s different to other services such as:

  • Cloud storage – functionality focused on securely preserving data and providing access and backups;
  • Cloud software – cloud applications accessed over the internet, eliminating the need for local installations; often referred to as software as a service (SaaS);
  • Cloud databases – services for organizing, storing, and managing data within a business, built specifically to run in a cloud environment.

There are many cloud computing services available today — including bare-metal servers, virtual machines, containers, and serverless computing — from a significant number of cloud service providers (CSPs). Keep reading to discover the benefits of cloud computing, along with some of the tools available.

How cloud computing tools support modern business operations

For organizations of all sizes, cloud computing tools can play a critical role in day-to-day business operations. There are myriad benefits to outsourcing compute requirements:

  • Cost – With cloud computing tools, there’s no need to invest in expensive physical servers and IT infrastructure. Thanks to the pay-as-you-go pricing model of such services, companies can avoid overspending on unused capacity. In addition, the financial burden of IT infrastructure is further reduced as cloud providers handle maintenance and upgrades. 
  • Scalability – Cloud computing services are inherently agile, letting businesses adjust processing power and other resources as their needs fluctuate. There’s also no need for lengthy infrastructure setups, making it quicker to deploy new workloads. 
  • Security – Since vendors invest heavily in cloud security measures, your organization’s data and applications are well-protected. Many cloud computing tools offer extensive disaster recovery capabilities. Furthermore, cloud platforms receive automatic updates and security patches, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities.
  • Reliability – There’s a high level of availability with cloud computing tools, thanks to redundancy systems and uptime guarantees offered by vendors. As a result, the chance of outages and downtime is typically lower than that of traditional on-premises solutions. 
  • Geography – Cloud computing vendors have data centers positioned strategically around the globe. If you have workloads requiring low latency or with specific data residency needs, it’s often easier to meet these conditions by outsourcing your compute to a cloud platform.

Of course, opting for cloud computing tools introduces challenges alongside these advantages: 

  • By hosting your data or apps in the cloud, you may have less cloud visibility and control over them. 
  • Data breaches and cyberattacks can still occur, despite robust measures put in place by even the most reputable cloud providers. 
  • Managing cloud service subscriptions can be complex too, especially in multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environments. 
  • Should you decide to switch between cloud computing vendors later down the line, proprietary technology or limited portability can make cloud migration more difficult. 

Ultimately, cloud computing tools offer a powerful and dynamic way for businesses to carry out their operations while using their budgets more efficiently — but making the most of an investment in cloud resources requires a fundamental understanding of the potential pitfalls as well.

The different types of cloud computing tools

There’s a range of cloud compute capabilities that suit different needs. In terms of pricing, cloud computing vendors typically offer the following options:

  • On-demand or pay-as-you-go pricing offers guaranteed access to compute resources, provided they’re available in the requested region. It’s the most flexible option and is best for short-term or unpredictable workloads, although it’s also the most expensive. 
  • Reserved instances offer discounts for committing to a certain configuration over a longer period, typically one to three years. It’s sometimes possible to sell back unused reserved instances to reduce your spend. RIs are most cost-effective for predictable, consistent workloads.
  • Spot instances are significantly cheaper than on-demand compute, sometimes by up to 90%, but with the caveat that availability is not guaranteed. Workloads running on spot instances may be terminated at short notice, for example if the CSP requires the underlying computing resources in order to serve on-demand or RI customers. 

 

As for cloud computing tools themselves, there are multiple formats available, offering different balances between the CSP and customer in terms of who manages different aspects of the compute service.

Virtual machines

The most common form of compute offered by cloud service providers, virtual machines (VMs) provide an isolated, virtualized environment that emulates a real computer. CPU, memory, and data storage can be customized to suit a wide variety of applications and workloads, such as web servers, databases, and software development environments.

Containers

Containers provide lightweight and highly scalable environments for running applications and microservices. They’re entirely self-contained, packaging apps and their dependencies into a single unit that can be consistently deployed across different environments. Kubernetes is a popular open-source platform for container orchestration. 

Serverless computing

Serverless computing tools let developers focus on writing code without having to manage underlying servers and cloud infrastructure. With serverless computing, provisioning and scaling is handled automatically based on demand, reducing cost.

Bare metal

Bare metal instances are useful if you need direct access to physical servers without any virtualization layer. Although good for high-performance or specialized workloads, they require more management and are less scalable than standard VMs.

Specialized compute

Many cloud computing vendors also offer specialized options for specific workloads, such as:

  • GPU instances for intensive workloads such as machine learning, data analytics, and rendering;
  • High-performance computing (HPC) instances designed for parallel processing and large-scale computational tasks;
  • Edge computing services that enable real-time processing by utilizing resources closer to the point of data generation or consumption.

The top 10 cloud computing vendors

While Amazon, Google, and Microsoft make up around half of all market share, they’re far from the only cloud computing vendors to choose from. Here’s a look at the top 10, along with their core strengths and who they best suit.

  • Amazon Web Services – The undisputed leader, AWS offers a comprehensive suite of cloud computing tools. It caters to all business sizes and is known for its reliability, scalability, and security.
  • Microsoft Azure – Azure is a strong competitor to AWS and is also suitable for all business sizes. It excels in integration with other Microsoft products and services, as well as hybrid cloud solutions.
  • Google Cloud Platform – The last of the big three, GCP is particularly well-suited to businesses with AI, machine learning, or big data needs — from startups to large enterprises. 
  • Alibaba Cloud – Alibaba caters to both small and large businesses and offers competitive pricing. As China’s leading cloud provider, it’s a particularly good option for organizations with a focus on the Asian market.
  • Oracle Cloud – Larger organizations that are already invested in Oracle software may opt to use its cloud platform, which is known for its emphasis on enterprise applications and database management.
  • IBM Cloud – IBM Cloud primarily caters to large enterprises with complex IT needs, and has particular strengths in security, hybrid cloud solutions, and blockchain technology. 
  • DigitalOcean – The user-friendly platform of DigitalOcean is a popular choice for developers and startups, striking an appealing balance between simplicity and affordability for smaller businesses and devops teams. 
  • OVHcloud – This cloud provider is known for its commitment to data privacy and security. Although it caters to businesses of all sizes, it has a particularly strong focus on the European market. 
  • Tencent Cloud – Another major player in the Chinese market, Tencent Cloud leans heavily towards social networking and gaming applications through a wide range of services.
  • Rackspace – This cloud computing vendor offers expertise in migration, security, and optimization through its managed cloud services, which will particularly suit businesses who want to reduce the burden of managing cloud deployments.

Manage your AWS cloud computing tools with Vertice

Whether you’re running public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid environments within your organization, staying abreast of your cloud computing tools and cloud contract management is a must. One way to do this is through a cloud monitoring and management tool such as the Cloud Cost Optimization platform from Vertice. 

If you leverage AWS for your compute needs, our solution can help you optimize your cloud environment in a number of ways:

  • Gain overview of your entire cloud spend through detailed reporting and forecasting workflows;
  • Receive intelligent configuration management recommendations for more than 40 AWS services according to advanced cloud optimization tests;
  • Leverage automation to buy and sell AWS Reserved Instances according to sophisticated algorithms;
  • Attain cheaper enterprise discounting by letting our experts take care of negotiations and contract renewal management on your behalf.

To find out more about how our Cloud Cost Optimization solution could help you reduce your compute spend, simply get in touch using the form below.

Smarter SaaS Spend

Learn more about Vertice and how we can help your business save on SaaS.

Cloud computing tools FAQs